Coming off the worst season in 12 years, the South Carolina State football program entered the off-season with an even more focused recruiting game plan.
The goal: trying to find the best talent available to fill the need for a program looking to return to its physical, run-oriented roots.
With several linemen and two in-state running back prospects among the 15 verbal commitments expected to sign today, the Bulldogs are hoping this year’s freshman class will help expedite the team’s return to the top of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference standings.
Bamberg-Ehrhardt running back Demetrius Odom is one of two T&D Region Elite 11 standouts expected to sign with S.C. State today. The 6-4, 160-pound senior rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of his two seasons with the Red Raiders and was a first-team All-T&D Region selection.
S.C. State also gained a verbal commitment from Shrine Bowl running back Harold Atkinson of Carolina Forest. The 6-1, 205-pound senior and three-star Rivals prospect had 941 yards and nine touchdowns this past season and was the leading rusher and yardage producer for the Sandlappers in their win over North Carolina in the Shrine Bowl.
South Carolina, Minnesota, Indiana and North Carolina State were among those wanting Atkinson.
The other Elite 11 standout expected to sign is linebacker Michael Wamer of Woodland. The 6-2, 205-pound Wamer had 41 tackles, 12 for loss, five sacks and six interceptions for the Wolverines this past season.
Rounding out the list of potential S.C. State signees are:
Quarterback Kylen Binn (6-5, 210) of Blythewood High School – A North-South All Star who completed 123-215 passes for 1,386 yards and 13 interceptions and rushed for 248 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Bengals under former head coach and Bulldog alumnus Reggie Kennedy (now at Sumter High School).
Offensive tackle Justin Evans (6-5, 280) of Wilson High School – A two-sport athlete, he was listed in the preseason by recruiting site 247sports.com as the Palmetto State’s third-best offensive tackle prospect. He played this past season for first-year Tigers head coach and former S.C. State running back Chad Eaddy and received offers from S.C. State, East Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Hampton, Georgia State and Charlotte.
Tight end Zane Fields (6-2, 235) of Lovejoy High School in Hampton, Ga. — An All-Region 2-AAAAAA selection at linebacker, he helped his team reach the state title game with 72.5 tackles and 6.5 sacks.
Defensive end Victor Ishmael Jr. (6-3, 240) of Miami Sunset High School in Florida – He is the son of the assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Miami Hurricanes.
Defensive lineman Trayshawn Watkins (6-3, 240) of Chase High School in Forest City, N.C. — The younger brother of Clemson freshman defensive tackle Carlos Watkins.
Defensive linemen Dayshawn Taylor (5-11, 240) of Lincoln County High School in Georgia.
Defensive lineman Greg Newell (6-2, 220) out of the Atlanta Sports Academy in Georgia.
Defensive end Ty Cravens (6-1, 215) of Pebblebrook High School in Mableton, Ga.
Wide receiver Chris Trimmings (5-11, 180) of Brunswick High School in Georgia.
Defensive back Carlos Merritt (6-0, 180) of Langston Hughes High School in Georgia — He was a member of the Region 3-AAAAAA champion Panthers last season.
Defensive back Kolby Gray (5-10, 187) of Atlanta Sports Academy.
Placekicker Tyler Chisholm (5-10, 185) of Hilton Head Christian Academy — A two-time SCISA Class 2-A champion, he rushed for 963 yards and 12 TDs, amassed 36 tackles and had 34 touchbacks.
Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 803-533-5547. For more information about S.C. State athletics, read Grant’s blog “Following the Bulldogs” at thebulldogzone.com. Follow Grant on Twitter@TandDSports.